The new President-elect of Bulgaria is a former Mig-29 Fulcrum pilot

Major General Rumen Radev, who was the Bulgarian Air Force Commander until August 1, 2016, has been elected President of Bulgaria.

On Nov. 13, Rumen Radev, nominated by an initiative committee and supported by the Bulgarian Socialist Party, has been elected president of Bulgaria with little over 58 percent of the votes. His rival – Tsetska Tsacheva, nominated by the ruling GERB party, won a little over 35 percent of the votes according to Radio Bulgaria.

A fighter pilot in the Bulgarian Air Force, he has served as Air Force Commander until Aug. 1, 2016, when he resigned as a sign of disagreement with the national strategy according to which Bulgaria’s airspace would be policed by air forces of another country.

Here’s his flight experience:

  • 1987 – 1988: junior pilot in the 15th Fighter Aviation Regiment – Ravnets
  • 1989 – 1990: unit deputy commander at the 15th Fighter Aviation Regiment – Ravnets
  • 1990 – 1994: unit commander at the 15th Fighter Aviation Regiment – Ravnets
  • 1996 – 1998: MiG-29 squadron commander at the Fifth fighter airbase – Ravnets
  • 1998 – 1999: deputy commander for flight preparation at the Fifth fighter airbase – Ravnets
  • 1999 – 2000: deputy commander for flight training at the Third fighter airbase – Graf Ignatievo
  • 2000 – Study of the Air defence of the Republic of Bulgaria – NATO, Brussels
  • 2000 – 2002: Chief of Staff of the Third fighter airbase – Graf Ignatievo
  • 2003 – 2005: Chief of Staff of the Third Fighter Airbase – Graf Ignatievo
  • 2005 – 2009: commander of the Third Fighter Airbase – Graf Ignatievo
  • 2009 – 2014: Bulgarian Air Force deputy commander
  • 2014 – 2016: Bulgarian Air Force commander

Despite being a high-rank officer Radev was an active MiG-29 pilot who regularly flew the Fulcrum.

For instance, on Oct. 11, 2014, when the Bulgarian Air Force celebrated its 102nd anniversary (Oct. 16) with an air show at Sofia, Radev, Commander of the BuAF flew a stunning display piloting the Bulgarian Air Force MiG-29 and performing a low altitude “Cobra” followed by two tail slides.

Here below you can have a look at the whole stunning performance by the then 51 year Maj. General Rumen Radev, the new president-elect of Bulgaria.

H/T Martin De Villers for the heads-up



About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. 91% from elections units are voted for General Radev in Bulgaria and abroad.
    Good luck Mr.President, we are proud with you !

    • the comparison of F22 is not MIGs, it is the almost invisible stealth Sukhoi, much more more speed and fire power than F22

      • Are you referring to the PAKFA? Though impressive on paper, it’s kinematic performance hinges on its final engine type… if it indeed performs as advertised that is.
        No, the PAKFA won’t be as stealthy (not even in the same league) as the Raptor or the Lightning II. There is talk that the Chinesen J-20 and J-31 would be more stealthy than the PAKFA. Yet all three are still said to be less stealthy than Raptor and Lightning II.

    • Not when flown by one of our allies it’s not! Quite the dogfighter according to friends who’ve been at knife range with one in DACT. Hornet drivers in particular, note it’s not as user friendly in terms of cockpit workload, but it’s a speedy, agile, powerful machine still in use by many of our friends.

      • Our allies won’t have to face U.S. or NATO Partner Nation 5th gen. MiG-29 meets F-22 or F-35 means MiG-29 is dead, no matter who’s flying it!

        • And you probably know, that when a Russian pilot is in that MiG, it means US and Russia are at war by then. And there will be no victory for anybody if that happens. Just a background radiation so high, that it will wipe all life from earth.

    • You always sound like the Air Force does have nothing like F-22s or -35s. The work horses are other planes, like the Hornet or F-15. Come back to reality. Maintenance per hour of flight is also not in favor of the F-22. Guess why the are not built anymore.

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